COMPUTER RELATED STRESS
Business has changed and unfortunately, the change has come with a price. Everyone is aware of the stress factors in a general work environment. There are difficult bosses, unrelenting noise, unreasonable deadlines, conflicts with co-workers, and lack of job security. And . . .now we have computer related stress.
Physical stress that comes from sitting in front of a computer 6-8 hours (or more) each day is the most obvious.
You probably think that technology is amazing – even cool, to put it in the vernacular – and it is. It has changed our lives immeasurably.
The fact that a few strokes on a computer keyboard or numbers punched into a smart phone allows us to be connected to people in every country in the world – including remote rural areas. That would have seemed like science fiction only a few decades ago. But,today, it is our reality.
Technology – A Blessing or a Curse?
Technology is an amazing gift. It allows us to do more in less time and to finish our work quicker with fewer errors than ever before. The result is increased productivity, more efficient use of resources, and more free time to spend with our families. Right? Well…that was the idea….but, that is not actually what happened.
There is no question that we have the ability to accomplish far more in a day. But as good hard-working individuals we feel that since it is now possible to do the work of two, we should do exactly that. Sadly, most companies expect it from us, as well.
The end result is that instead of getting our work done in 2/3 of the time it used to take, we are now expected to do 1/3 more work in the same amount of time.
As mentioned above, all this change and “progress” has come with a price. Computer related stress is a reality that can take a serious toll on the mind and body if steps are not taken to alleviate it as much as possible. There are both physical and mental stressors that must be considered and addressed.
The physical stress of manual labor is obvious, but with computers they are not so obvious, yet create their own set of hazardous circumstances. Those circumstances are one of the biggest drivers of computer related stress.
When we think of sitting, there is usually a pleasant feeling of relief to sit down and take the load off our feet. As a result it is easy to think of a job that allows you to sit throughout the day as a great opportunity. Sadly that is not true.
Incorrect posture when sitting in one position for long periods of time can wreak havoc on the body. It can lead to muscle tension that results in soreness and even pain in various parts of the body – legs, back, shoulders and neck seem to be affected most frequently.
There is also the possibility of carpel tunnel syndrome. This occurs when the median nerve that runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist. This condition can develop because of poor positioning of the hands and wrists while typing on the computer keyboard and often requires surgery to correct it.
Staring at a lighted computer screen is taxing for the eyes, and in some cases can create serious problems. Because of the prevalence of this problem among office workers, serious questions are continuously being raised. Are the screens bright enough? How bright is too bright? How bright should the rest of the room be compared to the screen’s brightness? What kind of overhead lights should be used to prevent a double-glare problem? The factors that can contribute to eye strain and fatigue are many and varied.
The Information Age (also known as the Computer Age, Digital Age, or New Media Age) in which we now live is characterized by the shift from traditional industry to an economy based on information computerization. The onset of the Information Age is associated with the Digital Revolution, just as the Industritial Revolution marked the onset of the Industrial Age. (Wikipedia)
Regardless of your position, there seems to be a never-ending flow of emails that creates pressure on the recipient. It must be dealt with, even if you simply delete it.
When E-mail first became available, it was believed that it would improve communication and make things run more smoothly. That is definitely not always the case. Sometimes, it is nearly impossible to get through all of the daily e-mails, resulting in messages never being read and important information being lost in the shuffle.
In addition to e-mail, every person in every business must learn to live with the continual flow of information. Readily available information is a wonderful gift. We can find almost any thing we need on the Internet, plus information within a company can be disbursed quickly and efficiently. However, unless you can find a way to manage it – glean what you need, file it for easy access, and let the rest go – it is easy to be overwhelmed by the enormity of it all, which can result in missing or losing information that it critical to your job or vital to the success of your business.
So . . . What’s the Answer?
Regardless of whether you work in a brick and mortar office, or are self-employed and work out of your home, there is much to be considered as a computer-based worker. The field is fraught with peril. The consequences may seem unavoidable.
The good news is that if you are well-versed in the possible problems and their solutions, you will be better prepared to deal with the stress or avoid it all together. These are a few suggestions:
1. Create a Low-Stress Environment
To the degree possible, you want to create a low-stress environment in order to avoid the potential problems that working in front of a computer can create – for example, a good ergonomic chair and a standing desk would be a great place to start. If you don’t have them, ask for them.
It is important to understand the physical environment, why it is so important, and what can be done to make it a healthy situation for the human mind and body.
2. Develop Good Time Management Skills
Once you put into place the safeguards for the physical, you must move on to the psychological side. Good time management skills, whether managing only yourself or dozens of individuals, can make a huge difference in this fast-paced, digital world.
3. Learn to Handle the Information Overload
One of the easier steps to implement is developing a working knowledge of how to handle the daily deluge of emails. This skill is essential for anyone who has a computer inbox.
Plus, it is critical for computer-based workers to find and use current software programs and applications to help manage the massive stream of information that is involved in almost every business today.
4. Outsource Whatever Can Be Outsourced
Another solutions is outsourcing – a tool of this brave new world. Contracting out work to freelancers and service companies necessitates that you know why you are doing it, what you should outsource, where to find reliable, qualified people, and information about the outsourcing process. Outsourcing, if used effectively, can promote growth. If it used incorrectly, it may cause more problems than it solves. So, proceed with caution.
But, we are jumping ahead of ourselves. Let’s step back and look at the big picture, which we will start with the next posting.